I’m so meta

(I’m using “meta” here as described in Wikipedia: “In epistemology, the prefix meta- is used to mean about (its own category). For example, metadata are data about data (who has produced them, when, what format the data are in and so on)… metaemotion in psychology means an individual’s emotion about his/her own basic emotion, or somebody else’s basic emotion.”)

It's all relative. Brain cells, bodies, ancient cliffs, far-flung galaxies...

It’s all relative. Brain cells, bodies, ancient cliffs, far-flung galaxies… (Photo of the Grand Canyon by me)

Reading through fellow bloggers’ posts over the last week I couldn’t help but notice the year-in-review and welcome-the-new-year themes.

Of course that got me thinking about the kind of year I had in 2012, in writing and in other areas.

Almost as soon as I began my mental review, however, I began contemplating, as I always do, the bigger existential questions that lie behind such thinking. It’s a treadmill I’ve been running on since young adulthood. It takes the form of a conversation with myself and goes something like this:

What’s the point of a New Year’s resolution when we’ll all be dead in 100 years—and you in less than that?”

“But I’m here right now. That has to mean something.”

“It means only as much as you decide it means.”

“I wish I had me some of that religion. Then I wouldn’t have to figure all this out for myself.”

“What fun would that be?”

“Maybe not fun, but a lot more comforting.”

“It’s the curse of being human.”

“Then I’d rather be a cat. Or a dog.”

“Sorry, you don’t get a choice.”

“But I have to figure out some way to live.”

“I think you just did.

So there it is: the conversation that plays out in my head, in various forms and at various volumes, with tiresome regularity.

It has led my husband to describe me as “tormented.” It drew me to write fiction. It prompted me to begin working as a birth doula, a profession that requires me to forget who I am, forget past and present, and focus only on the moment at hand. It explains why blog posts like KM Huber’s make me cry.

An uplifting message for those of you who need one

Lest you think I spend my life in perpetual despair, rest assured that I’m actually a pretty upbeat person.

I’ve realized over the many years of listening to this repeating conversation that the real achievement is to know in your gut that life is meaningless and uncertain—and live it anyway. (Oh, wait, that isn’t very uplifting, unless you’re me. Sorry.)

How about those resolutions, meta-girl?

In the writing realm:

  1. Finish my current novel-in-progress and decide whether to self-publish or pursue an agent
  2. Have a short story accepted for publication in a literary journal

In the personal realm, there is only one

  1. Live in the moment

A little later I’ll be off to celebrate the coming new year with friends. As I look into the champagne glass exploding with bubbles, my mind will flash forward to the eventual annihilation of the universe. And I will surrender to the heart-rending awareness that the gelatinous matter inside my skull can even conceive of both a glass of bubbly and universal extinction—never mind appreciate them, and give them both up.

What about your New Year’s resolutions? Have you vowed to stop reading blog posts that make parenthetical references to Wikipedia entries about epistemology? I hope not, because I’m looking forward to another year with you!

7 thoughts on “I’m so meta

  1. I am terrible at living in the “now.” It’s always “in the future,” which I suppose is better than me dwelling on the past. But still, I wish I could be more “present.” I even read “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle hoping it would give me some insight, even though I consider myself far too pragmatic for books like that. And sure enough, although his words were powerful (and repetitive…), as soon as I finished reading it, my “now” disappeared and it was back to my “future.” Every now and then I realize I’m in the moment, and I try to relish that feeling, but soon enough it’s gone again. Sigh.

    Great post, Audrey. Happy New Year!

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  2. Hi Audrey, I love the live in the moment resolution – that’s one for me too. I seem to spend most of my time either thinking about what’s to come or going over what’s behind me – living in the ‘now’ is a constant challenge. But with kids is where you notice it – I look back at my daughter’s life so far (she’s 4) and find myself wishing I’d been more present in certain moments, more able to enjoy them without worry or anxiety or other mental interruptions. But then I find myself thinking, maybe that is me being present. Maybe that’s just the way I live in the moment …

    There I go over-analysing it again (we have a lot in common). Happy new year, here’s to a torment-free 2013 xxx

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